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The Yellow Claw by Sax Rohmer

Part 5 out of 7

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picture, of the extreme top of a book-case, and of a patch of white
ceiling in the room above; furthermore he had a clear sight of the
man who had opened the window, and who now turned and reentered the
room. The man was Sir Brian Malpas.

Heedless of the roaring traffic stream, upon the brink of which he
stood, heedless of all who passed him by, Sowerby gazed aloft,
seeking to project himself, as it were, into that lighted room.
Not being an accomplished clairvoyant, he remained in all his
component parts upon the pavement of Piccadilly; but ours is the
privilege to succeed where Sowerby failed, and the comedy being
enacted in the room above should prove well deserving of study.

To the tactful diplomacy of M. Gaston Max, the task of securing
from Sir Brian an invitation to step up into his chambers in order
to smoke a final cigar was no heavy one. He seated himself in a
deep armchair, at the baronet's invitation, and accepted a very
fine cigar, contentedly, sniffing at the old cognac with the
appreciation of a connoisseur, ere holding it under the syphon.

He glanced around the room, noting the character of the ornaments,
and looked up at the big bookshelf which was near to him; these
rapid inquiries dictated the following remark: "You have lived in
China, Sir Brian?"

Sir Brian surveyed him with mild surprise.

"Yes," he replied; "I was for some time at the Embassy in Pekin."

His guest nodded, blowing a ring of smoke from his lips and tracing
its hazy outline with the lighted end of his cigar.

"I, too, have been in China," he said slowly.

"What, really! I had no idea."

"Yes--I have been in China . . . I" . . .

M. Gaston grew suddenly deathly pale and his fingers began to
twitch alarmingly. He stared before him with wide-opened eyes and
began to cough and to choke as if suffocating--dying.

Sir Brian Malpas leapt to his feet with an exclamation of concern.
His visitor weakly waved him away, gasping: "It is nothing . . . it
will . . . pass off. Oh! mon dieu!" . . .

Sir Brian ran and opened one of the windows to admit more air to
the apartment. He turned and looked back anxiously at the man in
the armchair.

M. Gaston, twitching in a pitiful manner and still frightfully
pale, was clutching the chair-arms and glaring straight in front of
him. Sir Brian started slightly and advanced again to his
visitor's side.

The burning cigar lay upon the carpet beside the chair, and Sir
Brian took it up and tossed it into the grate. As he did so he
looked searchingly into the eyes of M. Gaston. The pupils were
extraordinary dilated. . . .

"Do you feel better?" asked Sir Brian.

"Much better," muttered M. Gaston, his face twitching nervously--
"much better."

"Are you subject to these attacks?"

"Since--I was in China--yes, unfortunately."

Sir Brian tugged at his fair mustache and seemed about to speak,
then turned aside, and, walking to the table, poured out a peg of
brandy and offered it to his guest.

"Thanks," said M. Gaston; "many thanks indeed, but already I
recover. There is only one thing that would hasten my recovery,
and that, I fear, is not available."

"What is that?"

He looked again at M. Gaston's eyes with their very dilated pupils.

"Opium!" whispered M. Gaston.

"What! you . . . you" . . .

"I acquired the custom in China," replied the Frenchman, his voice
gradually growing stronger; "and for many years, now, I have
regarded opium, as essential to my well-being. Unfortunately
business has detained me in London, and I have been forced to fast
for an unusually long time. My outraged constitution is
protesting--that is all."

He shrugged his shoulders and glanced up at his host with an odd

"You have my sympathy," said Sir Brian. . . .

"In Paris," continued the visitor, "I am a member of a select and
cozy little club; near the Boulevard Beaumarchais. . . ."

"I have heard of it," interjected Malpas--"on the Rue St. Claude?"

"That indeed is its situation," replied the other with surprise.
"You know someone who is a member?"

Sir Brian Malpas hesitated for ten seconds or more; then, crossing
the room and reclosing the window, he turned, facing his visitor
across the large room.

"I was a member, myself, during the time that I lived in Paris," he
said, in a hurried manner which did not entirely serve to cover his

"My dear Sir Brian! We have at least one taste in common!"

Sir Brian Malpas passed his hand across his brow with a weary
gesture well-known to fellow Members of Parliament, for it often
presaged the abrupt termination of a promising speech.

"I curse the day that I was appointed to Pekin," he said; "for it
was in Pekin that I acquired the opium habit. I thought to make it
my servant; it has made me" . . .

"What! you would give it up?"

Sir Brian surveyed the speaker with surprise again.

"Do you doubt it?"

"My dear Sir Brian!" cried the Frenchman, now completely restored,
"my real life is lived in the land of the poppies; my other life is
but a shadow! Morbleu! to be an outcast from that garden of bliss
is to me torture excruciating. For the past three months I have
regularly met in my trances." . . .

Sir Brian shuddered coldly.

"In my explorations of that wonderland," continued the Frenchman,
"a most fascinating Eastern girl. Ah! I cannot describe her; for
when, at a time like this, I seek to conjure up her image,--nom
d'um nom! do you know, I can think of nothing but a serpent!"

"A serpent!"

"A serpent, exactly. Yet, when I actually meet her in the land of
the poppies, she is a dusky Cleopatra in whose arms I forget the
world--even the world of the poppy. We float down the stream
together, always in an Indian bark canoe, and this stream runs
through orange groves. Numberless apes--millions of apes, inhabit
these groves, and as we two float along, they hurl orange blossoms--
orange blossoms, you understand--until the canoe is filled with
them. I assure you, monsieur, that I perform these delightful
journeys regularly, and to be deprived of the key which opens the
gate of this wonderland, is to me like being exiled from a loved
one. Pardieu! that grove of the apes! Morbleu! my witch of the
dusky eyes! Yet, as I have told you, owing to some trick of my
brain, whilst I can experience an intense longing for that
companion of my dreams, my waking attempts to visualize her provide
nothing but the image" . . .

"Of a serpent," concluded Sir Brian, smiling pathetically. "You
are indeed an enthusiast, M. Gaston, and to me a new type. I had
supposed that every slave of the drug cursed his servitude and
loathed and despised himself." . . .

"Ah, monsieur! to ME those words sound almost like a sacrilege!"

"But," continued Sir Brian, "your remarks interest me strangely;
for two reasons. First, they confirm your assertion that you are,
or were, an habitue of the Rue St. Claude, and secondly, they
revive in my mind an old fancy--a superstition."

"What is that, Sir Brian?" inquired M. Max, whose opium vision was
a faithful imitation of one related to him by an actual frequenter
of the establishment near the Boulevard Beaumarchais.

"Only once before, M. Gaston, have I compared notes with a fellow
opium-smoker, and he, also, was a patron of Madame Jean; he, also,
met in his dreams that Eastern Circe, in the grove of apes, just as
I" . . .

"Morbleu! Yes?"

"As I meet her!"

"But this is astounding!" cried Max, who actually thought it so.
"Your fancy--your superstition--was this: that only habitues of Rue
St. Claude met, in poppyland, this vision? And in your fancy you
are now confirmed?"

"It is singular, at least."

"It is more than that, Sir Brian! Can it be that some intelligence
presides over that establishment and exercises--shall I call it a
hypnotic influence upon the inmates?"

M. Max put the question with sincere interest.

"One does not ALWAYS meet her," murmured Sir Brian. "But--yes, it
is possible. For I have since renewed those experiences in

"What! in London?"

"Are you remaining for some time longer in London?"

"Alas! for several weeks yet."

"Then I will introduce you to a gentleman who can secure you
admission to an establishment in London--where you may even hope
sometimes to find the orange grove--to meet your dream-bride!"

"What!" cried M. Gaston, rising to his feet, his eyes bright with
gratitude, "you will do that?"

"With pleasure," said Sir Brian Malpas, wearily; "nor am I jealous!
But--no! do not thank me, for I do not share your views upon the
subject, monsieur. You are a devout worshiper; I, an unhappy



Into the Palm Court of the Hotel Astoria, Mr. Gianapolis came,
radiant and bowing. M. Gaston rose to greet his visitor. M.
Gaston was arrayed in a light gray suit and wore a violet tie of
very chaste design; his complexion had assumed a quality of
sallowness, and the pupils of his eyes had acquired (as on the
occasion of his visit to the chambers of Sir Brian Malpas) a
chatoyant quality; they alternately dilated and contracted in a
most remarkable manner--in a manner which attracted the immediate
attention of Mr. Gianapolis.

"My dear sir," he said, speaking in French, "you suffer. I
perceive how grievously you suffer; and you have been denied that
panacea which beneficent nature designed for the service of
mankind. A certain gentleman known to both of us (we brethren of
the poppy are all nameless) has advised me of your requirements--
and here I am."

"You are welcome," declared M. Gaston.

He rose and grasped eagerly the hand of the Greek, at the same time
looking about the Palm Court suspiciously. "You can relieve my

Mr. Gianapolis seated himself beside the Frenchman.

"I perceive," he said, "that you are of those who abjure the
heresies of De Quincey. How little he knew, that De Quincey, of
the true ritual of the poppy! He regarded it as the German regards
his lager, whereas we know--you and I--that it is an Eleusinian
mystery; that true communicants must retreat to the temple of the
goddess if they would partake of Paradise with her."

"It is perhaps a question of temperament," said M. Gaston, speaking
in a singularly tremulous voice. "De Quincey apparently possessed
the type of constitution which is cerebrally stimulated by opium.
To such a being the golden gates are closed; and the Easterners,
whom he despised for what he termed their beastly lethargies, have
taught me the real secret of the poppy. I do not employ opium as
an aid to my social activities; I regard it as nepenthe from them
and as a key to a brighter realm. It has been my custom, M.
Gianapolis, for many years, periodically to visit that fairyland.
In Paris I regularly arranged my affairs in such a manner that I
found myself occasionally at liberty to spend two or three days, as
the case might be, in the company of my bright friends who haunted
the Boulevard Beaumarchais."

"Ah! Our acquaintance has mentioned something of this to me,
Monsieur. You knew Madame Jean?"

"The dear Madame Jean! Name of a name! She was the hierophant of
my Paris Temple" . . .

"And Sen?"

"Our excellent Sen! Splendid man! It was from the hands of the
worthy Sen, the incomparable Sen, that I received the key to the
gate! Ah! how I have suffered since the accursed business has
exiled me from the" . . .

"I feel for you," declared Gianapolis, warmly; "I, too, have
worshiped at the shrine; and although I cannot promise that the
London establishment to which I shall introduce you is comparable
with that over which Madame Jean formerly presided" . . .

"Formerly?" exclaimed M. Gaston, with lifted eyebrows. "You do not
tell me" . . .

"My friend," said Gianapolis, "in Europe we are less enlightened
upon certain matters than in Smyrna, in Constantinople--in Cairo.
The impertinent police have closed the establishment in the Rue St.

"Ah!" exclaimed M. Gaston, striking his brow, "misery! I shall
return to Paris, then, only to die?"

"I would suggest, monsieur," said Gianapolis, tapping him
confidentially upon the breast, "that you periodically visit London
in future. The journey is a short one, and already, I am happy to
say, the London establishment (conducted by Mr. Ho-Pin of Canton--a
most accomplished gentleman, and a graduate of London)--enjoys the
patronage of several distinguished citizens of Paris, of Brussels,
of Vienna, and elsewhere."

"You offer me life!" declared M. Gaston, gratefully. "The commoner
establishments, for the convenience of sailors and others of that
class, at Dieppe, Calais,"--he shrugged his shoulders,
comprehensively--"are impossible as resorts. In catering for the
true devotees--for those who, unlike De Quincey, plunge and do not
dabble--for those who seek to explore the ultimate regions of
poppyland, for those who have learnt the mystery from the real
masters in Asia and not in Europe--the enterprise conducted by
Madame Jean supplied a want long and bitterly experienced. I
rejoice to know that London has not been neglected" . . .

"My dear friend!" cried Gianapolis enthusiastically, "no important
city has been neglected! A high priest of the cult has arisen, and
from a parent lodge in Pekin he has extended his offices to kindred
lodges in most of the capitals of Europe and Asia; he has not
neglected the Near East, and America owes him a national debt of

"Ah! the great man!" murmured M. Gaston, with closed eyes. "As an
old habitue of the Rue St. Claude, I divine that you refer to Mr.

"Beyond doubt," whispered Gianapolis, imparting a quality of awe to
his voice. "From you, my friend, I will have no secrets; but"--he
glanced about him crookedly, and lowered his voice to an impressive
whisper--"the police, as you are aware" . . .

"Curse their interference!" said M. Gaston.

"Curse it indeed; but the police persist in believing, or in
pretending to believe, that any establishment patronized by lovers
of the magic resin must necessarily be a resort of criminals."


"Whilst this absurd state of affairs prevails, it is advisable, it
is more than advisable, it is imperative, that all of us should be
secret. The . . . raid--unpleasant word!--upon the establishment
in Paris--was so unexpected that there was no time to advise
patrons; but the admirable tact of the French authorities ensured
the suppression of all names. Since--always as a protective
measure--no business relationship exists between any two of Mr.
King's establishments (each one being entirely self-governed) some
difficulty is being experienced, I believe, in obtaining the names
of those who patronized Madame Jean. But I am doubly glad to have
met you, M. Gaston, for not only can I put you in touch with the
London establishment, but I can impress upon you the necessity of
preserving absolute silence" . . .

M. Gaston extended his palms eloquently.

"To me," he declared, "the name of Mr. King is a sacred symbol."

"It is to all of us!" responded the Greek, devoutly.

M. Gaston in turn became confidential, bending toward Gianapolis so
that, as the shadow of the Greek fell upon his face, his pupils
contracted catlike.

"How often have I prayed," he whispered, "for a sight of that
remarkable man!"

A look of horror, real or simulated, appeared upon the countenance
of Gianapolis.

"To see--Mr. King!" he breathed. "My clear friend, I declare to
you by all that I hold sacred that I--though one of the earliest
patrons of the first establishment, that in Pekin--have never seen
Mr. King!"

"He is so cautious and so clever as that?"

"Even as cautious and even as clever--yes! Though every branch of
the enterprise in the world were destroyed, no man would ever see
Mr. King; he would remain but a NAME!"

"You will arrange for me to visit the house of--Ho-Pin, did you

"To-day, if you wish," said Gianapolis, brightly.

"My funds," continued M. Gaston, shrugging his shoulders, "are not
limitless at the moment; and until I receive a remittance from
Paris" . . .

The brow of Mr. Gianapolis darkened slightly.

"Our clientele here," he replied, "is a very wealthy one, and the
fees are slightly higher than in Paris. An entrance fee of fifty
guineas is charged, and an annual subscription of the same
amount" . . .

"But," exclaimed M. Gaston, "I shall not be in London for so long
as a year! In a week or a fortnight from now, I shall be on my way
to America!"

"You will receive an introduction to the New York representative,
and your membership will be available for any of the United States

"But I am going to South America."

"At Buenos Aires is one of the largest branches."

"But I am not going to Buenos Aires! I am going with a prospecting
party to Yucatan."

"You must be well aware, monsieur, that to go to Yucatan is to
exile yourself from all that life holds for you."

"I can take a supply" . . .

"You will die, monsieur! Already you suffer abominably" . . .

"I do not suffer because of any lack of the specific," said M.
Gaston wearily; "for if I were entirely unable to obtain possession
of it, I should most certainly die. But I suffer because, living
as I do at present in a public hotel, I am unable to embark upon a
protracted voyage into those realms which hold so much for me" . . .

"I offer you the means" . . .

"But to charge me one hundred guineas, since I cannot possibly
avail myself of the full privileges, is to rob me--is to trade upon
my condition!" M. Gaston was feebly indignant.

"Let it be twenty-five guineas, monsieur," said the Greek,
reflectively, "entitling you to two visits."

"Good! good!" cried M. Gaston. "Shall I write you a check?"

"You mistake me," said Gianapolis. "I am in no way connected with
the management of the establishment. You will settle this business
matter with Mr. Ho-Pin" . . .

"Yes, yes!"

"To whom I will introduce you this evening. Checks, as you must be
aware, are unacceptable. I will meet you at Piccadilly Circus,
outside the entrance to the London Pavilion, at nine o'clock this
evening, and you will bring with you the twenty-five guineas in
cash. You will arrange to absent yourself during the following

"Of course, of course! At nine o'clock at Piccadilly Circus?"


M. Gaston, this business satisfactorily completed, made his way to
his own room by a somewhat devious route, not wishing to encounter
anyone of his numerous acquaintances whilst in an apparent state of
ill-health so calculated to excite compassion. He avoided the lift
and ascended the many stairs to his small apartment.

Here he rectified the sallowness of his complexion, which was due,
not to outraged nature, but to the arts of make-up. His dilated
pupils (a phenomenon traceable to drops of belladonna) he was
compelled to suffer for the present; but since their condition
tended temporarily to impair his sight, he determined to remain in
his room until the time for the appointment with Gianapolis.

"So!" he muttered--"we have branches in Europe, Asia, Africa and
America! Eh, bien! to find all those would occupy five hundred
detectives for a whole year. I have a better plan: crush the
spider and the winds of heaven will disperse his web!"



He seated himself in a cane armchair and, whilst the facts were
fresh in his memory, made elaborate notes upon the recent
conversation with the Greek. He had achieved almost more than he
could have hoped for; but, knowing something of the elaborate
organization of the opium group, he recognized that he owed some
part of his information to the sense of security which this
admirably conducted machine inspired in its mechanics. The
introduction from Sir Brian Malpas had worked wonders, without
doubt; and his own intimate knowledge of the establishment
adjoining the Boulevard Beaumarchais, far from arousing the
suspicions of Gianapolis, had evidently strengthened the latter's
conviction that he had to deal with a confirmed opium slave.

The French detective congratulated himself upon the completeness of
his Paris operation. It was evident that the French police had
succeeded in suppressing all communication between the detained
members of the Rue St. Claude den and the head office--which he
shrewdly suspected to be situated in London. So confident were the
group in the self-contained properties of each of their branches
that the raid of any one establishment meant for them nothing more
than a temporary financial loss. Failing the clue supplied by the
draft on Paris, the case, so far as he was concerned, indeed, must
have terminated with the raiding of the opium house. He reflected
that he owed that precious discovery primarily to the promptness
with which he had conducted the raid--to the finding of the letter
(the ONE incriminating letter) from Mr. King.

Evidently the group remained in ignorance of the fact that the
little arrangement at the Credit Lyonnais had been discovered. He
surveyed--and his eyes twinkled humorously--a small photograph
which was contained in his writing-case.

It represented a very typical Parisian gentleman, with a carefully
trimmed square beard and well brushed mustache, wearing pince-nez
and a white silk knot at his neck. The photograph was cut from a
French magazine, and beneath it appeared the legend:

"M. Gaston Max, Service de Surete."

There was marked genius in the conspicuous dressing of M. Gaston
Max, who, as M. Gaston, was now patronizing the Hotel Astoria. For
whilst there was nothing furtive, nothing secret, about this
gentleman, the closest scrutiny (and because he invited it, he was
never subjected to it) must have failed to detect any resemblance
between M. Gaston of the Hotel Astoria and M. Gaston Max of the
Service de Surete.

And which was the original M. Gaston Max? Was the M. Max of the
magazine photograph a disguised M. Max? or was that the veritable
M. Max, and was the patron of the Astoria a disguised M. Max? It
is quite possible that M. Gaston Max, himself, could not have
answered that question, so true an artist was he; and it is quite
certain that had the occasion arisen he would have refused to do

He partook of a light dinner in his own room, and having changed
into evening dress, went out to meet Mr. Gianapolis. The latter
was on the spot punctually at nine o'clock, and taking the
Frenchman familiarly by the arm, he hailed a taxi-cab, giving the
man the directions, "To Victoria-Suburban." Then, turning to his
companion, he whispered: "Evening dress? And you must return in

M. Max felt himself to be flushing like a girl. It was an error of
artistry that he had committed; a heinous crime! "So silly of me!"
he muttered.

"No matter," replied the Greek, genially.

The cab started. M. Max, though silently reproaching himself, made
mental notes of the destination. He had not renewed his sallow
complexion, for reasons of his own, and his dilated pupils were
beginning to contract again, facts which were not very evident,
however, in the poor light. He was very twitchy, nevertheless, and
the face of the man beside him was that of a sympathetic vulture,
if such a creature can be imagined. He inquired casually if the
new patron had brought his money with him, but for the most part
his conversation turned upon China, with which country he seemed to
be well acquainted. Arrived at Victoria, Mr. Gianapolis discharged
the cab, and again taking the Frenchman by the arm, walked with him
some twenty paces away from the station. A car suddenly pulled up
almost beside them.

Ere M. Max had time to note those details in which he was most
interested, Gianapolis had opened the door of the limousine, and
the Frenchman found himself within, beside Gianapolis, and behind
drawn blinds, speeding he knew not in what direction!

"I suppose I should apologize, my dear M. Gaston," said the Greek;
and, although unable to see him, for there was little light in the
car, M. Max seemed to FEEL him smiling--"but this little device has
proved so useful hitherto. In the event of any of those troubles--
wretched police interferences--arising, and of officious people
obtaining possession of a patron's name, he is spared the necessity
of perjuring himself in any way" . . .

"Perhaps I do not entirely understand you, monsieur?" said M. Max.

"It is so simple. The police are determined to raid one of our
establishments: they adopt the course of tracking an habitue. This
is not impossible. They question him; they ask, 'Do you know a Mr.
King?' He replies that he knows no such person, has never seen,
has never spoken with him! I assure you that official inquiries
have gone thus far already, in New York, for example; but to what
end? They say, 'Where is the establishment of a Mr. King to which
you have gone on such and such an occasion?' He replies with
perfect truth, 'I do not know.' Believe me this little device is
quite in your own interest, M. Gaston."

"But when again I feel myself compelled to resort to the solace of
the pipe, how then?"

"So simple! You will step to the telephone and ask for this
number: East 18642. You will then ask for Mr. King, and an
appointment will be made; I will meet you as I met you this
evening--and all will be well."

M. Max began to perceive that he had to deal with a scheme even
more elaborate than hitherto he had conjectured. These were very
clever people, and through the whole complicated network, as
through the petal of a poppy one may trace the veins, he traced the
guiding will--the power of a tortuous Eastern mind. The system was
truly Chinese in its elaborate, uncanny mystifications.

In some covered place that was very dark, the car stopped, and
Gianapolis, leaping out with agility, assisted M. Max to descend.

This was a covered courtyard, only lighted by the head-lamps of the

"Take my hand," directed the Greek.

M. Max complied, and was conducted through a low doorway and on to
descending steps.

Dimly, he heard the gear of the car reversed, and knew that the
limousine was backing out from the courtyard. The door behind him
was closed, and he heard no more. A dim light shone out below.

He descended, walking more confidently now that the way was
visible. A moment later he stood upon the threshold of an
apartment which calls for no further description at this place; he
stood in the doorway of the incredible, unforgettable cave of the
golden dragon; he looked into the beetle eyes of Ho-Pin!

Ho-Pin bowed before him, smiling his mirthless smile. In his left
hand he held an amber cigarette tube in which a cigarette smoldered
gently, sending up a gray pencil of smoke into the breathless,
perfumed air.

"Mr. Ho-Pin," said Gianapolis, indicating the Chinaman, "who will
attend to your requirements. This is our new friend from Paris,
introduced by Sir B. M---- , M. Gaston."

"You are vewry welcome," said the Chinaman in his monotonous,
metallic voice. "I understand that a fee of twenty-five guineas"--
he bowed again, still smiling.

The visitor took out his pocket-book and laid five notes, one
sovereign, and two half-crowns upon a little ebony table beside
him. Ho-Pin bowed again and waved his hand toward the lemon-
colored door on the left.

"Good night, M. Gaston!" said Gianapolis, in radiant benediction.

"Au revoir, monsieur!"

M. Max followed Ho-Pin to Block A and was conducted to a room at
the extreme right of the matting-lined corridor. He glanced about
it curiously.

"If you will pwrepare for your flight into the subliminal," said
Ho-Pin, bowing in the doorway, "I shall pwresently wreturn with
your wings."

In the cave of the golden dragon, Gianapolis sat smoking upon one
of the divans. The silence of the place was extraordinary;
unnatural, in the very heart of busy commercial London. Ho-Pin
reappeared and standing in the open doorway of Block A sharply
clapped his hands three times.

Said, the Egyptian, came out of the door at the further end of the
place, bearing a brass tray upon which were a little brass lamp of
Oriental manufacture wherein burned a blue spirituous flame, a
Japanese, lacquered box not much larger than a snuff-box, and a
long and most curiously carved pipe of wood inlaid with metal and
having a metal bowl. Bearing this, he crossed the room, passed Ho-
Pin, and entered the corridor beyond.

"You have, of course, put him in the observation room?" said

Ho-Pin regarded the speaker unemotionally.

"Assuwredly," he replied; "for since he visits us for the first
time, Mr. King will wish to see him" . . .

A faint shadow momentarily crossed the swarthy face of the Greek at
mention of that name--MR. KING. The servants of Mr. King, from the
highest to the lowest, served him for gain . . . and from fear.



Utter silence had claimed again the cave of the golden dragon.
Gianapolis sat alone in the place, smoking a cigarette, and gazing
crookedly at the image on the ivory pedestal. Then, glancing at
his wrist-watch, he stood up, and, stepping to the entrance door,
was about to open it . . .

"Ah, so! You go--already?"--

Gianapolis started back as though he had put his foot upon a viper,
and turned.

The Eurasian, wearing her yellow, Chinese dress, and with a red
poppy in her hair, stood watching him through half-shut eyes,
slowly waving her little fan before her face. Gianapolis attempted
the radiant smile, but its brilliancy was somewhat forced tonight.

"Yes, I must be off," he said hurriedly; "I have to see someone--a
future client, I think!"

"A future client--yes!"--the long black eyes were closed almost
entirely now. "Who is it--this future client, that you have to

"My dear Mahara! How odd of you to ask that" . . .

"It is odd of me?--so! . . . It is odd of me that I thinking to
wonder why you alway running away from me now?"

"Run away from you! My dear little Mahara!"--He approached the
dusky beauty with a certain timidity as one might seek to caress a
tiger-cat--"Surely you know" . . .

She struck down his hand with a sharp blow of her closed fan,
darting at him a look from the brilliant eyes which was a living

Resting one hand upon her hip, she stood with her right foot thrust
forward from beneath the yellow robe and pivoting upon the heel of
its little slipper. Her head tilted, she watched him through
lowered lashes.

"It was not so with you in Moulmein," she said, her silvery voice
lowered caressingly. "Do you remember with me a night beside the
Irawaddi?--where was that I wonder? Was it in Prome?--Perhaps,
yes? . . . you threatened me to leap in, if . . . and I think to
believe you!--I believing you!"

"Mahara!" cried Gianapolis, and sought to seize her in his arms.

Again she struck down his hand with the little fan, watching him
continuously and with no change of expression. But the smoldering
fire in those eyes told of a greater flame which consumed her
slender body and was potent enough to consume many a victim upon
its altar. Gianapolis' yellow skin assumed a faintly mottled

"Whatever is the matter?" he inquired plaintively.

"So you must be off--yes? I hear you say it; I asking you who to

"Why do you speak in English?" said Gianapolis with a faint
irritation. "Let us talk . . ."

She struck him lightly on the face with her fan; but he clenched
his teeth and suppressed an ugly exclamation.

"Who was it?" she asked, musically, "that say to me, 'to hear you
speaking English--like rippling water'?"

"You are mad!" muttered Gianapolis, beginning to drill the points
of his mustache as was his manner in moments of agitation. His
crooked eyes were fixed upon the face of the girl. "You go too

"Be watching, my friend, that you also go not too far."

The tones were silvery as ever, but the menace unmistakable.
Gianapolis forced a harsh laugh and brushed up his mustache

"What are you driving at?" he demanded, with some return of self-
confidence. "Am I to be treated to another exhibition of your
insane jealousies?" . . .

"AH!" The girl's eyes opened widely; she darted another venomous
glance at him. "I am sure now, I am SURE!"

"My dear Mahara, you talk nonsense!"


She glided sinuously toward him, still with one hand resting upon
her hip, stood almost touching his shoulder and raised her
beautiful wicked face to his, peering at him through half-closed
eyes, and resting the hand which grasped the fan lightly upon his

"You think I do not see? You think I do not watch?"--softer and
softer grew the silvery voice--"at Olaf van Noord's studio you
think I do not hear? Perhaps you not thinking to care if I see and
hear--for it seem you not seeing nor hearing ME. I watch and I
see. Is it her so soft brown hair? That color of hair is so more
prettier than ugly black! Is it her English eyes? Eyes that born
in the dark forests of Burma so hideous and so like the eyes of the
apes! Is it her white skin and her red cheeks? A brown skin--
though someone, there was, that say it is satin of heaven--is so
tiresome; when no more it is a new toy it does not interest" . . .

"Really," muttered Gianapolis, uneasily, "I think you must be mad!
I don't know what you are talking about."


One lithe step forward the Eurasian sprang, and, at the word,
brought down the fan with all her strength across Gianapolis' eyes!

He staggered away from her, uttering a hoarse cry and instinctively
raising his arms to guard himself from further attack; but the girl
stood poised again, her hand upon her hip; and swinging her right
toe to and fro. Gianapolis, applying his handkerchief to his eyes,
squinted at her furiously.

"Liar!" she repeated, and her voice had something of a soothing
whisper. "I say to you, be so careful that you go not too far--
with me! I do what I do, not because I am a poor fool" . . .

"It's funny," declared Gianapolis, an emotional catch in his voice--
"it's damn funny for you--for YOU--to adopt these airs with me!
Why, you went to Olaf van" . . .

"Stop!" cried the girl furiously, and sprang at him panther-like so
that he fell back again in confusion, stumbled and collapsed upon a
divan, with upraised, warding arms. "You Greek rat! you skinny
Greek rat! Be careful what you think to say to me--to ME! to ME!
Olaf van Noord--the poor, white-faced corpse-man! He is only one
of Said's mummies! Be careful what you think to say to me . . .
Oh! be careful--be very careful! It is dangerous of any friend of--
MR. KING" . . .

Gianapolis glanced at her furtively.

"It is dangerous of anyone in a house of--MR. KING to think to make
attachments,"--she hissed the words beneath her breath--"outside of
ourselves. MR. KING would not be glad to hear of it . . . I do not
like to tell it to MR. KING" . . .

Gianapolis rose to his feet, unsteadily, and stretched out his arms
in supplication.

"Mahara!" he said, "don't treat me like this! dear little Mahara!
what have I done to you? Tell me!--only tell me!"

"Shall I tell it in English?" asked the Eurasian softly. Her eyes
now were nearly closed; "or does it worry you that I speak so
ugly" . . .

"Mahara!" . . .

"I only say, be so very careful."

He made a final, bold attempt to throw his arms about her, but she
slipped from his grasp and ran lightly across the room.

"Go! hurry off!" she said, bending forward and pointing at him with
her fan, her eyes widely opened and blazing--"but remember--there
is danger! There is Said, who creeps silently, like the jackal" . . .

She opened the ebony door and darted into the corridor beyond,
closing the door behind her.

Gianapolis looked about him in a dazed manner, and yet again
applied his handkerchief to his stinging eyes. Whoever could have
seen him now must have failed to recognize the radiant Gianapolis
so well-known in Bohemian society, the Gianapolis about whom
floated a halo of mystery, but who at all times was such a good
fellow and so debonair. He took up his hat and gloves, turned, and
resolutely strode to the door. Once he glanced back over his
shoulder, but shrugged with a sort of self-contempt, and ascended
to the top of the steps.

With a key which he selected from a large bunch in his pocket, he
opened the door, and stepped out into the garage, carefully closing
the door behind him. An electric pocket-lamp served him with
sufficient light to find his way out into the lane, and very
shortly he was proceeding along Limehouse Causeway. At the moment,
indignation was the major emotion ruling his mind; he resented the
form which his anger assumed, for it was a passion of rebellion,
and rebellion is only possible in servants. It is the part of a
slave resenting the lash. He was an unscrupulous, unmoral man, not
lacking in courage of a sort; and upon the conquest of Mahara, the
visible mouthpiece of Mr. King, he had entered in much the same
spirit as that actuating a Kanaka who dives for pearls in a shark-
infested lagoon. He had sought a slave, and lo! the slave was
become the master! Otherwise whence this spirit of rebellion . . .
this fear?

He occupied himself with such profitless reflections up to the time
that he came to the electric trains; but, from thence onward, his
mind became otherwise engaged. On his way to Piccadilly Circus
that same evening, he had chanced to find himself upon a crowded
pavement walking immediately behind Denise Ryland and Helen
Cumberly. His esthetic, Greek soul had been fired at first sight
of the beauty of the latter; and now, his heart had leaped
ecstatically. His first impulse, of course, had been to join the
two ladies; but Gianapolis had trained himself to suspect all

Therefore he had drawn near--near enough to overhear their
conversation without proclaiming himself. What he had learned by
this eavesdropping he counted of peculiar value.

Helen Cumberly was arranging to dine with her friend at the
latter's hotel that evening. "But I want to be home early," he had
heard the girl say, "so if I leave you at about ten o'clock I can
walk to Palace Mansions. No! you need not come with me; I enjoy a
lonely walk through the streets of London in the evening" . . .

Gianapolis registered a mental vow that Helen's walk should not be
a lonely one. He did not flatter himself upon the possession of a
pleasing exterior, but, from experience, he knew that with women he
had a winning way.

Now, his mind aglow with roseate possibilities, he stepped from the
tram in the neighborhood of Shoreditch, and chartered a taxi-cab.
From this he descended at the corner of Arundel Street and strolled
along westward in the direction of the hotel patronized by Miss
Ryland. At a corner from which he could command a view of the
entrance, he paused and consulted his watch.

It was nearly twenty minutes past ten. Mentally, he cursed Mahara,
who perhaps had caused him to let slip this golden opportunity.
But his was not a character easily discouraged; he lighted a
cigarette and prepared himself to wait, in the hope that the girl
had not yet left her friend.

Gianapolis was a man capable of the uttermost sacrifices upon
either of two shrines; that of Mammon, or that of Eros. His was a
temperament (truly characteristic of his race) which can build up a
structure painfully, year by year, suffering unutterable privations
in the cause of its growth, only to shatter it at a blow for a
woman's smile. He was a true member of that brotherhood,
represented throughout the bazaars of the East, of those singular
shopkeepers who live by commercial rapine, who, demanding a hundred
piastres for an embroidered shawl from a plain woman, will exchange
it with a pretty one for a perfumed handkerchief. Externally of
London, he was internally of the Levant.

His vigil lasted but a quarter of an hour. At twenty-five minutes
to eleven, Helen Cumberly came running down the steps of the hotel
and hurried toward the Strand. Like a shadow, Gianapolis, throwing
away a half-smoked cigarette, glided around the corner, paused and
so timed his return that he literally ran into the girl as she
entered the main thoroughfare.

He started back.

"Why!" he cried, "Miss Cumberly!"

Helen checked a frown, and hastily substituted a smile.

"How odd that I should meet you here, Mr. Gianapolis," she said.

"Most extraordinary! I was on my way to visit a friend in Victoria
Street upon a rather urgent matter. May I venture to hope that
your path lies in a similar direction?"

Helen Cumberly, deceived by his suave manner (for how was she to
know that the Greek had learnt her address from Crockett, the
reporter?), found herself at a loss for an excuse. Her remarkably
pretty mouth was drawn down to one corner, inducing a dimple of
perplexity in her left cheek. She had that breadth between the
eyes which, whilst not an attribute of perfect beauty, indicates an
active mind, and is often found in Scotch women; now, by the slight
raising of her eyebrows, this space was accentuated. But Helen's
rapid thinking availed her not at all.

"Had you proposed to walk?" inquired Gianapolis, bending
deferentially and taking his place beside her with a confidence
which showed that her opportunity for repelling his attentions was

"Yes," she said, hesitatingly; "but--I fear I am detaining you" . . .

Of two evils she was choosing the lesser; the idea of being
confined in a cab with this ever-smiling Greek was unthinkable.

"Oh, my dear Miss Cumberly!" cried Gianapolis, beaming radiantly,
"it is a greater pleasure than I can express to you, and then for
two friends who are proceeding in the same direction to walk apart
would be quite absurd, would it not?"

The term "friend" was not pleasing to Helen's ears; Mr. Gianapolis
went far too fast. But she recognized her helplessness, and
accepted this cavalier with as good a grace as possible.

He immediately began to talk of Olaf van Noord and his pictures,
whilst Helen hurried along as though her life depended upon her
speed. Sometimes, on the pretense of piloting her at crossings,
Gianapolis would take her arm; and this contact she found most
disagreeable; but on the whole his conduct was respectful to the
point of servility.

A pretty woman who is not wholly obsessed by her personal charms,
learns more of the ways of mankind than it is vouchsafed to her
plainer sister ever to know; and in the crooked eyes of Gianapolis,
Helen Cumberly read a world of unuttered things, and drew her own
conclusions. These several conclusions dictated a single course;
avoidance of Gianapolis in future.

Fortunately, Helen Cumberly's self-chosen path in life had taught
her how to handle the nascent and undesirable lover. She chatted
upon the subject of art, and fenced adroitly whenever the Greek
sought to introduce the slightest personal element into the
conversation. Nevertheless, she was relieved when at last she
found herself in the familiar Square with her foot upon the steps
of Palace Mansions.

"Good night, Mr. Gianapolis!" she said, and frankly offered her

The Greek raised it to his lips with exaggerated courtesy, and
retained it, looking into her eyes in his crooked fashion.

"We both move in the world of art and letters; may I hope that this
meeting will not be our last?"

"I am always wandering about between Fleet Street and Soho,"
laughed Helen. "It is quite certain we shall run into each other
again before long. Good night, and thank you so much!"

She darted into the hallway, and ran lightly up the stairs.
Opening the flat door with her key, she entered and closed it
behind her, sighing with relief to be free of the over-attentive
Greek. Some impulse prompted her to enter her own room, and,
without turning up the light, to peer down into the Square.

Gianapolis was descending the steps. On the pavement he stood and
looked up at the windows, lingeringly; then he turned and walked

Helen Cumberly stifled an exclamation.

As the Greek gained the corner of the Square and was lost from
view, a lithe figure--kin of the shadows which had masked it--
became detached from the other shadows beneath the trees of the
central garden and stood, a vague silhouette seemingly looking up
at her window as Gianapolis had looked.

Helen leaned her hands upon the ledge and peered intently down.
The figure was a vague blur in the darkness, but it was moving away
along by the rails . . . following Gianapolis. No clear glimpse
she had of it, for bat-like, it avoided the light, this sinister
shape--and was gone.



It is time to rejoin M. Gaston Max in the catacombs of Ho-Pin.
Having prepared himself for drugged repose in the small but
luxurious apartment to which he had been conducted by the Chinaman,
he awaited with interest the next development. This took the form
of the arrival of an Egyptian attendant, white-robed, red-
slippered, and wearing the inevitable tarboosh. Upon the brass
tray which he carried were arranged the necessities of the opium
smoker. Placing the tray upon a little table beside the bed, he
extracted from the lacquered box a piece of gummy substance upon
the end of a long needle. This he twisted around, skilfully, in
the lamp flame until it acquired a blue spirituous flame of its
own. He dropped it into the bowl of the carven pipe and silently
placed the pipe in M. Max's hand.

Max, with simulated eagerness, rested the mouthpiece between his
lips and EXHALED rapturously.

Said stood watching him, without the slightest expression of
interest being perceptible upon his immobile face. For some time
the Frenchman made pretense of inhaling, gently, the potent vapor,
lying propped upon one elbow; then, allowing his head gradually to
droop, he closed his eyes and lay back upon the silken pillow.

Once more he exhaled feebly ere permitting the pipe to drop from
his listless grasp. The mouthpiece yet rested between his lips,
but the lower lip was beginning to drop. Finally, the pipe slipped
through his fingers on to the rich carpet, and he lay inert, head
thrown back, and revealing his lower teeth. The nauseating fumes
of opium loaded the atmosphere.

Said silently picked up the pipe, placed it upon the tray and
retired, closing the door in the same noiseless manner that
characterized all his movements.

For a time, M. Max lay inert, glancing about the place through the
veil of his lashes. He perceived no evidence of surveillance,
therefore he ventured fully to open his eyes; but he did not move
his head.

With the skill in summarizing detail at a glance which contributed
largely to make him the great criminal investigator that he was, he
noted those particulars which at an earlier time had occasioned the
astonishment of Soames.

M. Max was too deeply versed in his art to attempt any further
investigations, yet; he contented himself with learning as much as
was possible without moving in any way; and whilst he lay there
awaiting whatever might come, the door opened noiselessly--to admit

He was about to be submitted to a supreme test, for which, however,
he was not unprepared. He lay with closed eyes, breathing nasally.

Ho-Pin, his face a smiling, mirthless mask, bent over the bed.
Adeptly, he seized the right eyelid of M. Max, and rolled it back
over his forefinger, disclosing the eyeball. M. Max, anticipating
this test of the genuineness of his coma, had rolled up his eyes at
the moment of Ho-Pin's approach, so that now only the white of the
sclerotic showed. His trained nerves did not betray him. He lay
like a dead man, never flinching.

Ho-Pin, releasing the eyelid, muttered something gutturally, and
stole away from the bed as silently as he had approached it. Very
methodically he commenced to search through M. Max's effects,
commencing with the discarded garments. He examined the maker's
marks upon these, and scrutinized the buttons closely. He turned
out all the pockets, counted the contents of the purse, and of the
notecase, examined the name inside M. Max's hat, and explored the
lining in a manner which aroused the detective's professional
admiration. Watch and pocket-knife, Ho-Pin inspected with
interest. The little hand-bag which M. Max had brought with him,
containing a few toilet necessaries, was overhauled religiously.
So much the detective observed through his lowered lashes.

Then Ho-Pin again approached the bed and M. Max became again a dead

The silken pyjamas which the detective wore were subjected to
gentle examination by the sensitive fingers of the Chinaman, and
those same fingers crept beetle-like beneath the pillow.

Silently, Ho-Pin stole from the room and silently closed the door.

M. Max permitted himself a long breath of relief. It was an ordeal
through which few men could have passed triumphant.

The SILENCE of the place next attracted the inquirer's attention.
He had noted this silence at the moment that he entered the cave of
the golden dragon, but here it was even more marked; so that he
divined, even before he had examined the walls, that the apartment
was rendered sound-proof in the manner of a public telephone
cabinet. It was a significant circumstance to which he allotted
its full value.

But the question uppermost in his mind at the moment was this: Was
the time come yet to commence his explorations?

Patience was included in his complement, and, knowing that he had
the night before him, he preferred to wait. In this he did well.
Considerable time elapsed, possibly half-an-hour . . . and again
the door opened.

M. Max was conscious of a momentary nervous tremor; for now a WOMAN
stood regarding him. She wore a Chinese costume; a huge red poppy
was in her hair. Her beauty was magnificently evil; she had the
grace of a gazelle and the eyes of a sorceress. He had deceived
Ho-Pin, but could he deceive this Eurasian with the witch-eyes
wherein burnt ancient wisdom?

He felt rather than saw her approach; for now he ventured to peep
no more. She touched him lightly upon the mouth with her fingers
and laughed a little low, rippling laugh, the sound of which seemed
to trickle along his sensory nerves, icily. She bent over him--
lower--lower--and lower yet; until, above the nauseating odor of
the place he could smell the musk perfume of her hair. Yet lower
she bent; with every nerve in his body he could feel her nearing
presence. . . .

She kissed him on the lips.

Again she laughed, in that wicked, eerie glee.

M. Max was conscious of the most singular, the maddest impulses; it
was one of the supreme moments of his life. He knew that all
depended upon his absolute immobility; yet something in his brain
was prompting him--prompting him--to gather the witch to his
breast; to return that poisonous, that vampirish kiss, and then to
crush out life from the small lithe body.

Sternly he fought down these strange promptings, which he knew to
emanate hypnotically from the brain of the creature bending over

"Oh, my beautiful dead-baby," she said, softly, and her voice was
low, and weirdly sweet. "Oh, my new baby, how I love you, my dead
one!" Again she laughed, a musical peal. "I will creep to you in
the poppyland where you go . . . and you shall twine your fingers
in my hair and pull my red mouth down to you, kissing me . . .
kissing me, until you stifle and you die of my love. . . . Oh! my
beautiful mummy-baby . . . my baby." . . .

The witch-crooning died away into a murmur; and the Frenchman
became conscious of the withdrawal of that presence from the room.
No sound came to tell of the reclosing of the door; but the
obsession was removed, the spell raised.

Again he inhaled deeply the tainted air, and again he opened his

He had no warranty to suppose that he should remain unmolested
during the remainder of the night. The strange words of the
Eurasian he did not construe literally; yet could he be certain
that he was secure? . . . Nay! he could be certain that he was

The shaded lamp was swung in such a position that most of the light
was directed upon him where he lay, whilst the walls of the room
were bathed in a purple shadow. Behind him and above him, directly
over the head of the bunk, a faint sound--a sound inaudible except
in such a dead silence as that prevailing--told of some shutter
being raised or opened. He had trained himself to watch beneath
lowered lids without betraying that he was doing so by the
slightest nervous twitching. Now, as he watched the purple shaded
lamp above him, he observed that it was swaying and moving very
gently, whereas hitherto it had floated motionless in the still air.

No other sound came to guide him, and to have glanced upward would
have been to betray all.

For the second time that night he became aware of one who watched
him, became conscious of observation without the guaranty of his
physical senses. And beneath this new surveillance, there grew up
such a revulsion of his inner being as he had rarely experienced.
The perfume of ROSES became perceptible; and for some occult
reason, its fragrance DISGUSTED.

It was as though a faint draught from the opened shutter poured
into the apartment an impalpable cloud of evil; the very soul of
the Eurasian, had it taken vapory form and enveloped him, could not
have created a greater turmoil of his senses than this!

Some sinister and definitely malignant intelligence was focussed
upon him; or was this a chimera of his imagination? Could it be
that now he was become en rapport with the thought-forms created in
that chamber by its successive occupants?

Scores, perhaps hundreds of brains had there partaken of the unholy
sacrament of opium; thousands, millions of evil carnivals had
trailed in impish procession about that bed. He knew enough of the
creative power of thought to be aware that a sensitive mind coming
into contact with such an atmosphere could not fail to respond in
some degree to the suggestions, to the elemental hypnosis, of the

Was he, owing to his self-induced receptivity of mind, redreaming
the evil dreams of those who had occupied that bed before him?

It might be so, but, whatever the explanation, he found himself
unable to shake off that uncanny sensation of being watched,
studied, by a powerful and inimical intelligence.

Mr. King! . . . Mr. King was watching him!

The director of that group, whose structure was founded upon the
wreckage of human souls, was watching him! Because of a certain
sympathy which existed between his present emotions and those which
had threatened to obsess him whilst the Eurasian was in the room,
he half believed that it was she who peered down at him, now . . .
or she, and another.

The lamp swung gently to and fro, turning slowly to the right and
then revolving again to the left, giving life in its gyrations to
the intermingled figures on the walls. The atmosphere of the room
was nauseating; it was beginning to overpower him. . . .

Creative power of thought . . . what startling possibilities it
opened up. Almost it seemed, if Sir Brian Malpas were to be
credited, that the collective mind-force of a group of opium
smokers had created the "glamor" of a woman--an Oriental woman--who
visited them regularly in their trances. Or had that vision a
prototype in the flesh--whom he had seen? . . .

Creative power of thought . . . MR. KING! He was pursuing Mr.
King; whilst Mr. King might be nothing more than a thought-form--a
creation of cumulative thought--an elemental spirit which became
visible to his subjects, his victims, which had power over them;
which could slay them as the "shell" slew Frankenstein, his
creator; which could materialize: . . . Mr. King might be the
Spirit of Opium. . . .

The faint clicking sound was repeated.

Beads of perspiration stood upon M. Max's forehead; his imagination
had been running away with him. God! this was a house of fear! He
controlled himself, but only by dint of a tremendous effort of

Stealthily watching the lamp, he saw that the arc described by its
gyrations was diminishing with each successive swing, and, as he
watched, its movements grew slighter and slighter, until finally it
became quite stationary again, floating, purple and motionless,
upon the stagnant air.

Very slowly, he ventured to change his position, for his long
ordeal was beginning to induce cramp. The faint creaking of the
metal bunk seemed, in the dead stillness and to his highly-tensed
senses, like the rattling of castanets.

For ten minutes he lay in his new position; then moved slightly
again and waited for fully three-quarters of an hour. Nothing
happened, and he now determined to proceed with his inquiries.

Sitting upon the edge of the bunk, he looked about him, first
directing his attention to that portion of the wall immediately
above. So cunningly was the trap contrived that he could find no
trace of its existence. Carefully balancing himself upon the rails
on either side of the bunk, he stood up, and peered closely about
that part of the wall from which the sound had seemed to come. He
even ran his fingers lightly over the paper, up as high as he could
reach; but not the slightest crevice was perceptible. He began to
doubt the evidence of his own senses.

Unless his accursed imagination had been playing him tricks, a trap
of some kind had been opened above his head and someone had looked
in at him; yet--and his fingers were trained to such work--he was
prepared to swear that the surface of the Chinese paper covering
the wall was perfectly continuous. He drummed upon it lightly with
his finger-tips, here and there over the surface above the bed.
And in this fashion he became enlightened.

A portion, roughly a foot in height and two feet long, yielded a
slightly different note to his drumming; whereby he knew that that
part of the paper was not ATTACHED to the wall. He perceived the
truth. The trap, when closed, fitted flush with the back of the
wall-paper, and this paper (although when pasted upon the walls it
showed no evidence of the fact) must be TRANSPARENT.

From some dark place beyond, it was possible to peer in THROUGH the
rectangular patch of paper as through a window, at the occupant of
the bunk below, upon whom the shaded lamp directly poured its rays!

He examined more closely a lower part of the wall, which did not
fall within the shadow of the purple lamp-shade; for he was
thinking of the draught which had followed the opening of the trap.
By this examination he learnt two things: The explanation of the
draught, and that of a peculiar property possessed by the mural
decorations. These (as Soames had observed before him) assumed a
new form if one stared at them closely; other figures, figures
human and animal, seemed to take shape and to peer out from BEHIND
the more obvious designs which were perceptible at a glance. The
longer and the closer one studied these singular walls, the more
evident the UNDER design became, until it usurped the field of
vision entirely. It was a bewildering delusion; but M. Max had
solved the mystery.

There were TWO designs; the first, an intricate Chinese pattern,
was painted or printed upon material like the finest gauze. This
was attached over a second and vividly colored pattern upon thick
parchment-like paper--as he learnt by the application of the point
of his pocket-knife.

The observation trap was covered with this paper, and fitted so
nicely in the opening that his fingers had failed to detect,
through the superimposed gauze, the slightest irregularity there.
But, the trap opened, a perfectly clear view of the room could be
obtained through the gauze, which, by reason of its texture, also
admitted a current of air.

This matter settled, M. Max proceeded carefully to examine the
entire room foot by foot. Opening the door in one corner, he
entered the bathroom, in which, as in the outer apartment, an
electric light was burning. No window was discoverable, and not
even an opening for ventilation purposes. The latter fact he might
have deduced from the stagnation of the atmosphere.

Half an hour or more he spent in this fashion, without having
discovered anything beyond the secret of the observation trap.
Again he took out his pocket-knife, which was a large one with a
handsome mother-o'-pearl handle. Although Mr. Ho-Pin had examined
this carefully, he had solved only half of its secrets. M. Max
extracted a little pair of tweezers from the slot in which they
were lodged--as Ho-Pin had not neglected to do; but Ho-Pin, having
looked at the tweezers, had returned them to their place: M. Max
did not do so. He opened the entire knife as though it had been a
box, and revealed within it a tiny set of appliances designed
principally for the desecration of locks!

Selecting one of these, he took up his watch from the table upon
which it lay, and approached the door. It possessed a lever handle
of the Continental pattern, and M. Max silently prayed that this
might not be a snare and a delusion, but that the lock below might
be of the same manufacture.

In order to settle the point, he held the face of his watch close
to the keyhole, wound its knob in the wrong direction, and lo! it
became an electric lamp!

One glance he cast into the tiny cavity, then dropped back upon the
bunk, twisting his mobile mouth in that half smile at once humorous
and despairful.

"Nom d'un p'tit bonhomme!--a Yale!" he muttered. "To open that
without noise is impossible! Damn!"

M. Max threw himself back upon the pillow, and for an hour
afterward lay deep in silent reflection.

He had cigarettes in his case and should have liked to smoke, but
feared to take the risk of scenting the air with a perfume so

He had gained something by his exploit, but not all that he had
hoped for; clearly his part now was to await what the morning
should bring.



Morning brought the silent opening of the door, and the entrance of
Said, the Egyptian, bearing a tiny Chinese tea service upon a
lacquered tray.

But M. Max lay in a seemingly deathly stupor, and from this the
impassive Oriental had great difficulty in arousing him. Said,
having shaken some symptoms of life into the limp form of M. Max,
filled the little cup with fragrant China tea, and, supporting the
dazed man, held the beverage to his lips. With his eyes but
slightly opened, and with all his weight resting upon the arm of
the Egyptian, he gulped the hot tea, and noted that it was of
exquisite quality.

THEINE is an antidote to opium, and M. Max accordingly became
somewhat restored, and lay staring at the Oriental, and blinking
his eyes foolishly.

Said, leaving the tea service upon the little table, glided from
the room. Something else the Egyptian had left upon the tray in
addition to the dainty vessels of porcelain; it was a steel ring
containing a dozen or more keys. Most of these keys lay fanwise
and bunched together, but one lay isolated and pointing in an
opposite direction. It was a Yale key--the key of the door!

Silently as a shadow, M. Max glided into the bathroom, and
silently, swiftly, returned, carrying a cake of soap. Three clear,
sharp impressions, he secured of the Yale, the soap leaving no
trace of the operation upon the metal. He dropped the precious
soap tablet into his open bag.

In a state of semi-torpor, M. Max sprawled upon the bed for ten
minutes or more, during which time, as he noted, the door remained
ajar. Then there entered a figure which seemed wildly out of place
in the establishment of Ho-Pin. It was that of a butler, most
accurately dressed and most deferential in all his highly-trained
movements. His dark hair was neatly brushed, and his face, which
had a pinched appearance, was composed in that "if-it-is-entirely-
agreeable-to-you-Sir" expression, typical of his class.

The unhealthy, yellow skin of the new arrival, which harmonized so
ill with the clear whites of his little furtive eyes, interested M.
Max extraordinarily. M. Max was blinking like a week-old kitten,
and one could have sworn that he was but hazily conscious of his
surroundings; whereas in reality he was memorizing the cranial
peculiarities of the new arrival, the shape of his nose, the
disposition of his ears; the exact hue of his eyes; the presence of
a discolored tooth in his lower jaw, which a fish-like, nervous
trick of opening and closing the mouth periodically revealed.

"Good morning, sir!" said the valet, gently rubbing his palms
together and bending over the bed.

M. Max inhaled deeply, stared in glassy fashion, but in no way
indicated that he had heard the words.

The valet shook him gently by the shoulder.

"Good morning, sir. Shall I prepare your bath?"

"She is a serpent!" muttered M. Max, tossing one arm weakly above
his head . . . "all yellow. . . . But roses are growing in the mud
. . . of the river!"

"If you will take your bath, sir," insisted the man in black, "I
shall be ready to shave you when you return."

"Bath . . . shave me!"

M. Max began to rub his eyes and to stare uncomprehendingly at the

"Yes, sir; good morning, sir,"--there was another bow and more
rubbing of palms.

"Ah!"--of course! Morbleu! This is Paris. . . ."

"No, sir, excuse me, sir, London. Bath hot or cold, sir?"

"Cold," replied M. Max, struggling upright with apparent
difficulty; "yes,--cold."

"Very good, sir. Have you brought your own razor, sir?"

"Yes, yes," muttered Max--"in the bag--in that bag."

"I will fill the bath, sir."

The bath being duly filled, M. Max, throwing about his shoulders a
magnificent silk kimono which he found upon the armchair, steered a
zigzag course to the bathroom. His tooth-brush had been put in
place by the attentive valet; there was an abundance of clean
towels, soaps, bath salts, with other necessities and luxuries of
the toilet. M. Max, following his bath, saw fit to evidence a
return to mental clarity; and whilst he was being shaved he sought
to enter into conversation with the valet. But the latter was
singularly reticent, and again M. Max changed his tactics. He
perceived here a golden opportunity which he must not allow to slip
through his fingers.

"Would you like to earn a hundred pounds?" he demanded abruptly,
gazing into the beady eyes of the man bending over him.

Soames almost dropped the razor. His state of alarm was truly
pitiable; he glanced to the right, he glanced to the left, he
glanced over his shoulder, up at the ceiling and down at the floor.

"Excuse me, sir," he said, nervously; "I don't think I quite
understand you, sir?"

"It is quite simple," replied M. Max. "I asked you if you had some
use for a hundred pounds. Because if you have, I will meet you at
any place you like to mention and bring with me cash to that

"Hush, sir!--for God's sake, hush, sir!" whispered Soames.

A dew of perspiration was glistening upon his forehead, and it was
fortunate that he had finished shaving M. Max, for his hand was
trembling furiously. He made a pretense of hurrying with towels,
bay rum, and powder spray, but the beady eyes were ever glancing to
right and left and all about.

M. Max, who throughout this time had been reflecting, made a second

"Another fifty, or possibly another hundred, could be earned as
easily," he said, with assumed carelessness. "I may add that this
will not be offered again, and . . . that you will shortly be out
of employment, with worse to follow."

Soames began to exhibit signs of collapse.

"Oh, my God!" he muttered, "what shall I do? I can't promise--I
can't promise; but I might--I MIGHT look in at the 'Three Nuns' on
Friday evening about nine o'clock." . . .

He hastily scooped up M. Max's belongings, thrust them into the
handbag and closed it. M. Max was now fully dressed and ready to
depart. He placed a sovereign in the valet's ready palm.

"That's an appointment," he said softly.

Said entered and stood bowing in the doorway.

"Good morning, sir, good morning," muttered Soames, and covertly he
wiped the perspiration from his brow with the corner of a towel--
"good morning, and thank you very much."

M. Max, buttoning his light overcoat in order to conceal the fact
that he wore evening dress, entered the corridor, and followed the
Egyptian into the cave of the golden dragon. Ho-Pin, sleek and
smiling, received him there. Ho-Pin was smoking the inevitable
cigarette in the long tube, and, opening the door, he silently led
the way up the steps into the covered courtyard, Said following
with the hand bag. The limousine stood there, dimly visible in the
darkness. Said placed the handbag upon the seat inside, and Ho-Pin
assisted M. Max to enter, closing the door upon him, but leaning
through the open window to shake his hand. The Chinaman's hand was
icily cold and limp.

"Au wrevoir, my dear fwriend," he said in his metallic voice. "I
hope to have the pleasure of gwreeting you again vewry shortly."

With that he pulled up the window from the outside, and the
occupant of the limousine found himself in impenetrable darkness;
for dark blue blinds covered all the windows. He lay back,
endeavoring to determine what should be his next move. The car
started with a perfect action, and without the slightest jolt or
jar. By reason of the light which suddenly shone in through the
chinks of the blinds, he knew that he was outside the covered
courtyard; then he became aware that a sharp turning had been taken
to the left, followed almost immediately, by one to the right.

He directed his attention to the blinds.

"Ah! nom d'un nom! they are clever--these!"

The blinds worked in little vertical grooves and had each a tiny
lock. The blinds covering the glass doors on either side were
attached to the adjustable windows; so that when Ho-Pin had raised
the window, he had also closed the blind! And these windows
operated automatically, and defied all M. Max's efforts to open

He was effectively boxed in and unable to form the slightest
impression of his surroundings. He threw himself back upon the
soft cushions with a muttered curse of vexation; but the mobile
mouth was twisted into that wryly humorous smile. Always, M. Max
was a philosopher.

At the end of a drive of some twenty-five minutes or less, the car
stopped--the door was opened, and the radiant Gianapolis extended
both hands to the occupant.

"My dear M. Gaston!" he cried, "how glad I am to see you looking so
well! Hand me your bag, I beg of you!"

M. Max placed the bag in the extended hand of Gianapolis, and leapt
out upon the pavement.

"This way, my dear friend!" cried the Greek, grasping him warmly by
the arm.

The Frenchman found himself being led along toward the head of the
car; and, at the same moment, Said reversed the gear and backed
away. M. Max was foiled in his hopes of learning the number of the

He glanced about him wonderingly.

"You are in Temple Gardens, M. Gaston," explained the Greek, "and
here, unless I am greatly mistaken, comes a disengaged taxi-cab.
You will drive to your hotel?"

"Yes, to my hotel," replied M. Max.

"And whenever you wish to avail yourself of your privilege, and pay
a second visit to the establishment presided over by Mr. Ho-Pin,
you remember the number?"

"I remember the number," replied M. Max.

The cab hailed by Gianapolis drew up beside the two, and M. Max
entered it.

"Good morning, M. Gaston."

"Good morning, Mr. Gianapolis."



And now, Henry Leroux, Denise Ryland and Helen Cumberly were
speeding along the Richmond Road beneath a sky which smiled upon
Leroux's convalescence; for this was a perfect autumn morning which
ordinarily had gladdened him, but which saddened him to-day.

The sun shone and the sky was blue; a pleasant breeze played upon
his cheeks; whilst Mira, his wife, was . . .

He knew that he had come perilously near to the borderland beyond
which are gibbering, mowing things: that he had stood upon the
frontier of insanity; and realizing the futility of such
reflections, he struggled to banish them from his mind, for his
mind was not yet healed--and he must be whole, be sane, if he would
take part in the work, which, now, strangers were doing, whilst he--
whilst he was a useless hulk.

Denise Ryland had been very voluble at the commencement of the
drive, but, as it progressed, had grown gradually silent, and now
sat with her brows working up and down and with a little network of
wrinkles alternately appearing and disappearing above the bridge of
her nose. A self-reliant woman, it was irksome to her to know
herself outside the circle of activity revolving around the
mysterious Mr. King. She had had one interview with Inspector
Dunbar, merely in order that she might give personal testimony to
the fact that Mira Leroux had not visited her that year in Paris.
Of the shrewd Scotsman she had formed the poorest opinion; and
indeed she never had been known to express admiration for, or even
the slightest confidence in, any man breathing. The amiable M.
Gaston possessed virtues which appealed to her, but whilst she
admitted that his conversation was entertaining and his general
behavior good, she always spoke with the utmost contempt of his
sartorial splendor.

Now, with the days and the weeks slipping by, and with the
spectacle before her of poor Leroux, a mere shadow of his former
self, with the case, so far as she could perceive, at a standstill,
and with the police (she firmly believed) doing "absolutely . . .
nothing . . . whatever"--Denise Ryland recognized that what was
lacking in the investigation was that intuition and wit which only
a clever woman could bring to bear upon it, and of which she, in
particular, possessed an unlimited reserve.

The car sped on toward the purer atmosphere of the riverside, and
even the clouds of dust, which periodically enveloped them, with
the passing of each motor-'bus, and which at the commencement of
the drive had inspired her to several notable and syncopated
outbursts, now left her unmoved.

She thought that at last she perceived the secret working of that
Providence which ever dances attendance at the elbow of
accomplished womankind. Following the lead set by "H. C." in the
Planet ("H. C." was Helen Cumberly's nom de plume) and by Crocket
in the Daily Monitor, the London Press had taken Olaf van Noord to
its bosom; and his exhibition in the Little Gallery was an
established financial success, whilst "Our Lady of the Poppies"
(which had, of course, been rejected by the Royal Academy) promised
to be the picture of the year.

Mentally, Denise Ryland was again surveying that remarkable
composition; mentally she was surveying Olaf van Noord's model,
also. Into the scheme slowly forming in her brain, the yellow-
wrapped cigarette containing "a small percentage of opium" fitted
likewise. Finally, but not last in importance, the Greek
gentleman, Mr. Gianapolis, formed a unit of the whole.

Denise Ryland had always despised those detective creations which
abound in French literature; perceiving in their marvelous
deductions a tortured logic incompatible with the classic models.
She prided herself upon her logic, possibly because it was a
quality which she lacked, and probably because she confused it with
intuition, of which, to do her justice, she possessed an unusual
share. Now, this intuition was at work, at work well and truly;
and the result which this mental contortionist ascribed to pure
reason was nearer to the truth than a real logician could well have
hoped to attain by confining himself to legitimate data. In short,
she had determined to her own satisfaction that Mr. Gianapolis was
the clue to the mystery; that Mr. Gianapolis was not (as she had
once supposed) enacting the part of an amiable liar when he
declared that there were, in London, such apartments as that
represented by Olaf van Noord; that Mr. Gianapolis was acquainted
with the present whereabouts of Mrs. Leroux; that Mr. Gianapolis
knew who murdered Iris Vernon; and that Scotland Yard was a
benevolent institution for the support of those of enfeebled

These results achieved, she broke her long silence at the moment
that the car was turning into Richmond High Street.

"My dear!" she exclaimed, clutching Helen's arm, "I see it all!"

"Oh!" cried the girl, "how you startled me! I thought you were ill
or that you had seen something frightful." . . .

"I HAVE . . . seen something . . . frightful," declared Denise
Ryland. She glared across at the haggard Leroux. "Harry . . .
Leroux," she continued, "it is very fortunate . . . that I came to
London . . . very fortunate."

"I am sincerely glad that you did," answered the novelist, with one
of his kindly, weary smiles.

"My dear," said Denise Ryland, turning again to Helen Cumberly,
"you say you met that . . . cross-eyed . . . being . . .
Gianapolis, again?"

"Good Heavens!" cried Helen; "I thought I should never get rid of
him; a most loathsome man!"

"My dear . . . child"--Denise squeezed her tightly by the arm, and
peered into her face, intently--"cul-tivate . . . DELIBERATELY cul-
tivate that man's acquaintance!"

Helen stared at her friend as though she suspected the latter's

"I am afraid I do not understand at all," she said, breathlessly.

"I am positive that I do not," declared Leroux, who was as much
surprised as Helen. "In the first place I am not acquainted with
this cross-eyed being."

"You are . . . out of this!" cried Denise Ryland with a sweeping
movement of the left hand; "entirely . . . out of it! This is no
MAN'S . . . business." . . .

"But my dear Denise!" exclaimed Helen. . . .

"I beseech you; I entreat you; . . . I ORDER . . . you to cul-
tivate . . . that . . . execrable . . . being."

"Perhaps," said Helen, with eyes widely opened, "you will
condescend to give me some slight reason why I should do anything
so extraordinary and undesirable?"

"Undesirable!" cried Denise. "On the contrary; . . . it is MOST
. . . desirable! It is essential. The wretched . . . cross-eyed
. . . creature has presumed to fall in love . . . with you." . . .

"Oh!" cried Helen, flushing, and glancing rapidly at Leroux, who
now was thoroughly interested, "please do not talk nonsense!"

"It is no . . . nonsense. It is the finger . . . of Providence.
Do you know where you can find . . . him?"

"Not exactly; but I have a shrewd suspicion," again she glanced in
an embarrassed way at Leroux, "that he will know where to find ME."

"Who is this presumptuous person?" inquired the novelist, leaning
forward, his dark blue eyes aglow with interest.

"Never mind," replied Denise Ryland, "you will know . . . soon
enough. In the meantime . . . as I am simply . . . starving,
suppose we see about . . . lunch?"

Moved by some unaccountable impulse, Helen extended her hand to
Leroux, who took it quietly in his own and held it, looking down at
the slim fingers as though he derived strength and healing from
their touch.

"Poor boy," she said softly.



Detective-Sergeant Sowerby was seated in Dunbar's room at New
Scotland Yard. Some days had elapsed since that critical moment
when, all unaware of the fact, they had stood within three yards of
the much-wanted Soames, in the fauteuils of the east-end music-
hall. Every clue thus far investigated had proved a cul-de-sac.
Dunbar, who had literally been working night and day, now began to
show evidence of his giant toils. The tawny eyes were as keen as
ever, and the whole man as forceful as of old, but in the intervals
of conversation, his lids would droop wearily; he would only arouse
himself by a perceptible effort.

Sowerby, whose bowler hat lay upon Dunbar's table, was clad in the
familiar raincoat, and his ruddy cheerfulness had abated not one

"Have you ever read 'The Adventures of Martin Zeda'?" he asked
suddenly, breaking a silence of some minutes' duration.

Dunbar looked up with a start, as . . .

"Never!" he replied; "I'm not wasting my time with magazine trash."

"It's not trash," said Sowerby, assuming that unnatural air of
reflection which sat upon him so ill. "I've looked up the volumes
of the Ludgate Magazine in our local library, and I've read all the
series with much interest."

Dunbar leaned forward, watching him frowningly.

"I should have thought," he replied, "that you had enough to do
without wasting your time in that way!"

"IS it a waste of time?" inquired Sowerby, raising his eyebrows in
a manner which lent him a marked resemblance to a famous comedian.
"I tell you that the man who can work out plots like those might be
a second Jack-the-Ripper and not a soul the wiser!" . . .


"I've never met a more innocent LOOKING man, I'll allow; but if
you'll read the 'Adventures of Martin Zeda,' you'll know that" . . .

"Tosh!" snapped Dunbar, irritably; "your ideas of psychology would
make a Manx cat laugh! I suppose, on the same analogy, you think
the leader-writers of the dailies could run the Government better
than the Cabinet does it?"

"I think it very likely" . . .

"Tosh! Is there anybody in London knows more about the inside
workings of crime than the Commissioner? You will admit there
isn't; very good. Accordingly to your ideas, the Commissioner must
be the biggest blackguard in the Metropolis! I have said it twice
before, and I'll be saying it again, Sowerby: TOSH!"

"Well," said Sowerby with an offended air, "has anybody ever seen
Mr. King?"

"What are you driving at?"

"I am driving at this: somebody known in certain circles as Mr.
King is at the bottom of this mystery. It is highly probable that
Mr. King himself murdered Mrs. Vernon. On the evidence of your own
notes, nobody left Palace Mansions between the time of the crime
and the arrival of witnesses. Therefore, ONE of your witnesses
must be a liar; and the liar is Mr. King!"

Inspector Dunbar glared at his subordinate. But the latter
continued undaunted:--

"You won't believe it's Leroux; therefore it must be either Mr.
Exel, Dr. Cumberly, or Miss Cumberly." . . .

Inspector Dunbar stood up very suddenly, thrusting his chair from
him with much violence.

"Do you recollect the matter of Soames leaving Palace Mansions?" he

Sowerby's air of serio-comic defiance began to leave him. He
scratched his head reflectively.

"Soames got away like that because no one was expecting him to do
it. In the same way, neither Leroux, Exel, nor Dr. Cumberly knew
that there was any one else IN the flat at the very time when the
murderer was making his escape. The cases are identical. They
were not looking for a fugitive. He had gone before the search
commenced. A clever man could have slipped out in a hundred
different ways unobserved. Sowerby, you are . . ."

What Sowerby was, did not come to light at the moment; for, the
door quietly opened and in walked M. Gaston Max arrayed in his
inimitable traveling coat, and holding his hat of velour in his
gloved hand. He bowed politely.

"Good morning, gentlemen," he said.

"Good morning," said Dunbar and Sowerby together.

Sowerby hastened to place a chair for the distinguished visitor.
M. Max, thanking him with a bow, took his seat, and from an inside
pocket extracted a notebook.

"There are some little points," he said with a deprecating wave of
the hand, "which I should like to confirm." He opened the book,
sought the wanted page, and continued: "Do either of you know a
person answering to the following description: Height, about four
feet eight-and-a-half inches, medium build and carries himself with
a nervous stoop. Has a habit of rubbing his palms together when
addressing anyone. Has plump hands with rather tapering fingers,
and a growth of reddish down upon the backs thereof, indicating
that he has red or reddish hair. His chin recedes slightly and is
pointed, with a slight cleft parallel with the mouth and situated
equidistant from the base of the chin and the lower lip. A nervous
mannerism of the latter periodically reveals the lower teeth, one
of which, that immediately below the left canine, is much
discolored. He is clean-shaven, but may at some time have worn
whiskers. His eyes are small and ferret-like, set very closely
together and of a ruddy brown color. His nose is wide at the
bridge, but narrows to an unusual point at the end. In profile it
is irregular, or may have been broken at some time. He has scanty
eyebrows set very high, and a low forehead with two faint, vertical
wrinkles starting from the inner points of the eyebrows. His
natural complexion is probably sallow, and his hair (as hitherto
mentioned) either red or of sandy color. His ears are set far
back, and the lobes are thin and pointed. His hair is perfectly
straight and sparse, and there is a depression of the cheeks where
one would expect to find a prominence: that is--at the cheekbone.
The cranial development is unusual. The skull slopes back from the
crown at a remarkable angle, there being no protuberance at the
back, but instead a straight slope to the spine, sometimes seen in
the Teutonic races, and in this case much exaggerated. Viewed from
the front the skull is narrow, the temples depressed, and the crown
bulging over the ears, and receding to a ridge on top. In profile
the forehead is almost apelike in size and contour. . . ."

"SOAMES!" exclaimed Inspector Dunbar, leaping to his feet, and
bringing both his palms with a simultaneous bang upon the table
before him--"Soames, by God!"

M. Max, shrugging and smiling slightly, returned his notebook to
his pocket, and, taking out a cigar-case, placed it, open, upon the
table, inviting both his confreres, with a gesture, to avail
themselves of its contents.

"I thought so," he said simply. "I am glad."

Sowerby selected a cigar in a dazed manner, but Dunbar, ignoring
the presence of the cigar-case, leant forward across the table, his
eyes blazing, and his small, even, lower teeth revealed in a sort
of grim smile.

"M. Max," he said tensely--"you are a clever man! Where have you
got him?"

"I have not got him," replied the Frenchman, selecting and lighting
one of his own cigars. "He is much too useful to be locked up" . . .

"But" . . .

"But yes, my dear Inspector--he is safe; oh! he is quite safe. And
on Tuesday night he is going to introduce us to Mr. King!"

"MR. KING!" roared Dunbar; and in three strides of the long legs he
was around the table and standing before the Frenchman.

In passing he swept Sowerby's hat on to the floor, and Sowerby,
picking it up, began mechanically to brush it with his left sleeve,
smoking furiously the while.

"Soames," continued M. Max, quietly--"he is now known as Lucas, by
the way--is a man of very remarkable character; a fact indicated by
his quite unusual skull. He has no more will than this cigar"--he
held the cigar up between his fingers, illustratively--"but of
stupid pig obstinacy, that canaille--saligaud!--has enough for all
the cattle in Europe! He is like a man who knows that he stands
upon a sinking ship, yet, who whilst promising to take the plunge
every moment, hesitates and will continue to hesitate until someone
pushes him in. Pardieu! I push! Because of his pig obstinacy I
am compelled to take risks most unnecessary. He will not consent,
that Soames, to open the door for us . . ."

"What door?" snapped Dunbar.

"The door of the establishment of Mr. King," explained Max,

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